Late September and late November are the primary options that the BCCI can explore
On Thursday, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly suggested that the 2021 IPL could be completed in a window just prior to the men’s T20 World Cup. That was the first public hint of the windows the BCCI is looking at for the rescheduling.
At the moment India remains the host for the global event, scheduled to run from mid-October to November 14. But in the wake of the IPL’s postponement and uncertainty over how the pandemic progresses in India, the ICC could be forced to consider the UAE as the venue for its event.
There are still 31 matches left in the IPL. Three weeks with multiple double-headers across a few venues are likely to be enough. That leaves two realistic options in 2021 in which the BCCI could complete the tournament, either side of the T20 World Cup. ESPNcricinfo examines the pros and cons of each.
Late September window
India, UAE or even England could play hosts at this time of the year. Given the course of the pandemic, the UAE remains a favorite, having conducted a largely incident-free IPL in 2020. And if the T20 World Cup is also played in the UAE, it eases the logistical challenges of players moving between bubbles.
England could be an option given that India will already be there till mid-September for their five-Test series. Also, there could be a number of overseas players participating in England’s various domestic competitions, including The Hundred.
The biggest challenge will be to squeeze the tournament in the limited time between the end of India’s England tour and the T20 World Cup. The fifth Test in Manchester is scheduled to end on September 14. Although the ICC is yet to announce the itinerary for the T20 World Cup, it is expected to start around October 16. Accounting for quarantine periods and warm-up games wherever the tournament is held, teams will be expected to start arriving around the end of September.
After a long tour, the Indian players will likely want at least a week-long break. That would then leave just about under two weeks of free time before the teams head to the World Cup, although England’s players – a significant presence in the IPL – are scheduled to be part of tours to Bangladesh and Pakistan in October.
Workload will also be a factor for India’s players as they face the prospect of a long Test series, then the IPL, and then the T20 World Cup one after the other.
Late November window
India or the UAE will be the two primary contenders at this time, and for the tournament to be played right after the T20 World Cup ends.
Franchises will be concerned about the unavailability of overseas players especially from Australia and England, who will be involved in the Ashes from late November. Virtually all the countries, including India, are scheduled to play bilateral cricket immediately following the T20 World Cup.
India themselves are scheduled to host New Zealand for two Tests and three T20Is between November-December. Bangladesh, meanwhile, will host Pakistan for a series comprising two Tests and three T20s. Afghanistan will be in Zimbabwe from late November for a one-off Test, three ODIs, and three T20Is. South Africa and West Indies, though, will be free during that time.
If India can defer the New Zealand series and manage to find replacements for absent Australian and England players, the November window might look a better fit for the BCCI.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo